Commissioners question restricted funds, budget adoption delayed a week

Published 6:38 pm Wednesday, September 19, 2018

By Dawn Burleigh

The Orange Leader


Orange County residents will have to wait a week to learn the adopted tax rate for the 2018/2019 fiscal year.

Before discussion began on the budget, Orange County Judge Dean Crooks said he has concerns about the elected officials pay and asked to have Commissioners Court salaries decreased.

“Last year employees got a 5-percent raise, but the commissioners raise was much higher,” Crooks said. “Not that the amount is unjustified, but instead of doing just one group, it should be all and stepped.”

Commissioner John Gothia said he was one of the ones who pushed it through last year.

“The employees got more than 10-percent over several years,” Gothia said. “An adjustment was made last year for the court.”

Commissioner Johnny Trahan said the court had looked at it all.

“We looked at the matrix and somewhere paid off it and somewhere not,” Trahan said.

Crooks said he wanted to put the employees first.

“It is my feeling and with my military and police background, the troops come first,” Crooks said. “This is the precedent I want to set.”

The court voted 4-1 to leave all elected officials salaries as published. Crooks voted against.

Since the court was unable to vote on a budget for the 2018/2019 fiscal year, the court could not adopt a property tax as assessed by the Orange County Appraisal District or the adoption of the ad valorem tax rate per local Government Code 111.008.

Judge Crooks also said he was concerned about moving the regular court sessions to Wednesday as approved last week and wanted to discuss the setting of the day and time of Special Court sessions.

“They are at the discretion of the judge – technically,” Crooks added. “If we have a meeting on Wednesday and the newspapers don’t publish until Friday, there is a delay in getting out information.”

The Orange Leader publishes on Wednesdays and Saturdays. Two other newspapers publish on Wednesdays.

“If citizens attend, they need to leave to pick up kids,” Crooks said. “I propose we hold Special Court Sessions at 1:30 p.m. on Tuesdays.”

Commissioner Barry Burton suggested Citizen Comments agenda item be moved to the beginning of court instead of towards the end so more citizens could speak.